My brother, Mike, got into rowing about eight years ago when he and his wife lived in Cambridge, England. When they moved back stateside he kept up with the sport and has gotten to a competitive level. After Patrick and I cheered him on in an 8 man 50+ Chinook boat at the Head of the Charles in Boston, I was inspired to hit the ERG at my local gym.
I have used the ERG here and there since college for a work out and for the most part like it. A year ago at the gym I was mixing it into my routine and my knees were not liking it. I had some issues with them locking and I was not going to the chiropractor at the time so one leg was noticeably shorter without my adjustments- it did not make for a nice rowing experience. Getting back in the ERG a couple months ago was a very different experience. I had no pain, but it was definitely harder to do. After I pull – legs, back, arms and return arms, back, legs my legs cannot compress to the point where my shins are perpendicular to the ground. My heels and hamstrings are too tight and my core and hip flexors are too weak to pull it all together, which means this is a great exercise for me to work on the strengthen those body parts! Sometimes I skip the handle and use the glide seat on its own to practice pulling my body as close in as possible. I also like to take a foot out of the straps and work one leg at a time. It is a much different way to work the core and hip flexor than when you are standing and although you are not on your feet there is still a balance aspect to it all.
Mike wanted to keep training while on vacation here in Charleston so he reached out to Coastal Rowing Studio in Mount Pleasant to see about working out with them. The owner Brian let us check out one of their 6AM Endurance classes. There was only one other client dedicated enough to show up at 6AM the day after Christmas. We all get set up and on our machines and got started on 4 15 minute intervals each with a one minute break. Brian was a huge help to me with form and made adjustments to the machine as needed- changing the resistance to the handlebar, adjusting the foot straps up to help me get better shin form, and wrapping a band around the handlebars and the base of the rower to help my recovery to have something pulling me in closer so I could get more of a leg workout (and a residual bonus in my opinion- more of an arm work out too!). At the end of the class we even played around with mounting the machine on an incline as well as a decline to see play with making the recovery easier or harder to change up the work out.
After the class I felt really good. Most people work up a massive sweat on these machines, but not me. It is pretty tricky for me to push my body back and have to transition to a release and move my body forward. There is a bit of a delay in my legs having to “switch gears” so I cannot really work fast enough to get my heartrate up to where I would like it to be for a cardio workout, but it did wonders for working my weakest muscles in a totally different way than I do through swimming, boxing, yoga, and elliptical. I was surprised when I was not sore the next day, but by day 2 it hit me. Stretching my left quad hit my quad, hip flexor, and all the way up into my abs. I’m in pain and I like it.